[an error occurred while processing this directive] FactsCanada.ca — Sunday Newsletter 2001-45Su
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Sunday Newsletter 2001-45Su.

November 11, 2001.

[Craig] Our thanks to Gary who, out of the blue and without any prompting from us, sent in the newsletter you will read below.

[Gary] I have often regarded myself as a helpful sort of person, and it is in this light I offer the following to help carry FactsCanada.ca through this "dry spell". Acceptance or rejection of the articles should be decided on the merits of the pieces, not due to any bias you may hold in favour of the source (me!).

Now pinch-hitting for the usual cast of characters in this space: Gary Murray, whose goal in life is to be known as that quiet guy who seemed to know a little about everything. As you know, they say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing — therefore I must be dangerous! This week (and perhaps this week only) we will learn about a famous Canadian actor, a famous Canadian place/event, and a famous Canadian recipe. I will also entertain you with my version of the history of hockey in Canada.



\ Biography — Jay Silverheels
\ Place names and famous events — Craigellachie, British Columbia
\ Recipe — How to Cook a Whale
\ History of hockey
\ Preview
\ Links and resources
\ Legal and subscription information



Jay Silverheels

Jay Silverheels was born Harold J. Smith on May 26, 1919, the son of a Mohawk Chief on Six Nations Reservation in Brantford, Ontario. He was a very good athlete, excelling at wrestling, horse racing, football and boxing, as well as becoming a renowned lacrosse player before he entered films as a stunt man in 1938, thanks to the help of Joe E. Brown.

Following military service in World War Two, Silverheels returned to film work and began landing small, often stereotypical roles as an Indian warrior in Westerns. He appeared in a number of films though the 1940s before gaining notice as the Osceola Brother in Bogart's film "Key Largo" (1948). Most of his roles consisted of bit parts as "Indian". In 1949, Jay would work in a movie called "The Cowboy and the Indians" (1949) with another B-movie actor named Clayton Moore. It was later that same year that Jay would he hired to play the faithful Indian companion, Tonto, in the television series "The Lone Ranger". This role, while still playing the "Indian", would bring Jay fame that his motion-picture career never would. Another frequent role was the Apache leader Geronimo, whom he would play several times beginning with the Western classic "Broken Arrow" (1950).

After suffering a heart attack in the early 1950s, he returned to the role of Tonto, uttering the famous "kemosabe" line until the series ended its run in 1957. Many people, from linguistic experts to script writers to history buffs to Western movie fans, have speculated on the true meaning of his famous nickname for the masked hero he assisted so faithfully for so many years. My favourite explanation is "soggy shrub" as translated from Navajo, but "faithful friend", "trusty scout" (Ojibway), or "white shirt" (Apache) might be more appropriate. Though he was often asked, Jay would only say it was something the original script writers for the radio series had come up with.

In his retirement from the large and small screens he became an outspoken activist for Indian rights as well as a respected teacher within the Indian acting community. He appeared several times on talk and variety shows performing his own poetry. In later years he played fewer parts of importance and began a second career as a harness racer. His health failed in the late 1970s and he died of a stroke on March 5, 1980, a beloved figure to the Baby Boom generation of North America.



Craigellachie, British Columbia

On November 7, 1885, Donald Smith, Lord Strathcona, Director of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), drove the "last spike" into the brand new transcontinental railway, uniting Canada from sea to sea by rail. This historic ceremony took place at Craigellachie in the Monashee mountains of British Columbia, where today visitors can see the monument, check out a retired caboose, purchase mementos from the gift shop and, at various times, watch long trains as they pass by on their way to and from the Pacific Ocean.

Craigellachie is taken from the name of a high rock in Morayshire, Scotland. There in ancient times the beacon fire was lit that summoned Clan Grant in time of battle. The battle cry of the Grants was "Stand fast, Craigellachie!" In 1884 when the finances of the CPR were desperate, George Stephen raised £50 000 by guaranteeing that he, Donald Smith, and R.B. Angus would be personally responsible if the railway defaulted. Stephen and Smith, who were cousins, had grown up close to the crag of Craigellachie and knew the old war cry. After completion of the loan, Stephen's message cabled from London to Smith in Montreal read, "Stand fast, Craigellachie."

FactsCanada.ca map of Craigellachie, British Columbia


\\ RECIPE //

How to Cook a Whale

Most importantly, you cannot eat it all by yourself! So the first step is to call for a party and invite all your friends, relatives, and local dignitaries.

A special occasion, like the finding of a whale, calls for the use of ceremonial names. Though a hunter, a man, has found the whale, preparing food is women's work, and therefore the daughter of the hunter has the rights to prepare the whale. She is given the ceremonial name, Place-of-cutting-Blubber. Note that it is the daughter who has the rights, not the wife(s), due to the family rights in a matrilineal society.

Once everybody is ready, you bring tools, and the hunter who found the whale leads everybody in their canoes to the spot where he found it. The father of the hunter has the honour of speaking for the daughter of the hunter to "make a toast" for the occasion. It is customary to first declare how wonderful the whale is, being full of delicious blubber, etc. Then you should give the choicest piece (the dorsal fin) to the ranking dignitary, who is typically the chief of the village.

Everybody else gets an equal size piece of the whale according to the order of their rank. The first piece starts at the whale neck, and they work from the top down and from the head to the tail. Generally the pieces are cut about a fathom (6 feet) in width. After the ceremonial pieces are given out, the women go to work to gather the remaining fat from the whale. The last step is to cut off a piece of the tail of the whale.

When this is done, the pieces are loaded in the canoes, and everybody goes home to do the remainder of the preparation. The hunks of blubber are split into strips four fingers thick (two inches). These pieces are then cut into half inch strips.

A kettle of water is set to boil on the beach, and the strips are boiled to render the oil. The oil is ladled off and stored in watertight storage boxes. Whale oil is best stored in the corner of your house.

Then, you take cedar bark, and split it into long strips. Poke holes in the middle of the boiled pieces of whale blubber, and thread them onto the long strips of bark. When finish these strings of blubber are now called "tied-in-the-middle".

Dry these strips in the smoky rafters of your house for at least a month. When you want to eat some "tied-in-the-middle" take it down from the rafters, and boil it in a kettle until tender. This takes a lot of boiling. Be sure to eat it hot, because when it is cold, it is really tough. If you boil more than you can eat, you can dry it again, and reheat it later. This dish is called "eating boiled blubber tied in the middle", a real treat!

Sounds yummy!

How to Cook a Whale Found Dead



This article is a kind of rebuttal to John's brief history of hockey (FactsCanada.ca issue 2001-36Su). It is my own attempt at capturing the heritage of the great game of hockey as we know it in North America from the perspective of one who has played the game for about 30 years, all spent as a goaltender... which should give you a clue as to my state of mind.

In Canada, the name "hockey" was derived from the Algonquin word "sxoxcji" (hah-kay) which, roughly translated, means "hard punch". Apparently even these early hockey games featured brawling. First accounts of the matches described them as a free-for-all on ice. The object of the game appeared to be to survive being pummeled by opponents while pushing a large chunk of frozen moose dung around a frozen lake using a branch from a birch tree. The player who successfully deposited the droppings into a small hole cut in the ice was allowed to designate one player who would have to leave the game. This often led to players forming teams to increase their chances of success. Those early aboriginal athletes were rewarded for a victory with a tasty local version of a fermented beverage, which they drank and splashed all over each other amid their celebrations.

When white people first began to settle in North America, they were intrigued to watch these "hah-kay" matches, many of which would take up to two days before a winner was decided. Some white people began to notice a few similarities between this game and one they were familiar with from England, called field hockey. The settlers began to introduce their field hockey rules into the North American game, refining it and molding it closer to what we are familiar with today. The native athletes decried the use of European players, saying it would ruin their game and their heritage, but their complaints faded. They eventually settled on using nine men per side, soccer goals (so they needed two goaltenders per goal), and they stopped using the moose dung, opting instead for a cricket ball. It is a little-revealed fact that the jockstrap, with its protective cup, was invented by an early Canadian goaltender not long after the introduction of this ball to the game of hockey.

Winters were very harsh in Canada's early days. People got sick, many died. Fewer villages were able to field nine fit men, let alone nine "hah-kay" players, so they reduced the team size to six and allowed only one goaltender. After considerable whining from the goalies, the nets were made smaller — approximately six feet wide by six feet high. Eventually they would settle on four feet for the height of a goal, simply due to the fact that many villages had begun to use children to guard the nets because they could recover faster from being clobbered by the hard, wooden cricket ball. The hockey stick was being refined too. No longer were birch branches simply broken off of trees. Instead, an early settler named Sherwood had begun carving sticks out of ash trees he had cut down to clear his farmland. These sticks provided players more control of the ball, they left a large bruise instead of narrow welts when used for smacking opponents, and they lasted much longer.

The most influential change came when an unknown Dutch immigrant introduced ice skates to Canada, and this new innovation revolutionized the game of hockey. Now, not only could players swat each other with the new sticks and continue to run into each other, but they could do all this at much higher speeds. Spectators were ecstatic. Collisions were more frequent, more brutal and usually more devastating. Bloodied and broken players being dragged off the ice became a common sight. Teams began carrying spare players in order to continue matches. Sometimes the larger villages would have dozens of players in reserve versus a travelling team with perhaps two or three replacements, so the home team would win by attrition. This led to the establishing of player rosters.

The wooden cricket ball had been replaced along the way by a hard rubber ball which, when it froze, did not tend to shatter into kindling. Most of us are familiar with the development of the hockey puck from this rubber ball — during a game, the ball had a large chunk break off one side, so, having no replacement, they sliced off the opposite side creating the flat round disk we use today. Goaltenders were overjoyed because it would be years before anyone figured out how to raise this new puck off the ice when shooting.



Next Sunday I (John, remember me?) will bring you a biography of Holly Cole, a question about a Canadian island larger than Great Britain, some more music trivia, a pet peeve (send me more!), another great recipe to keep you warm in the winter (and a little more manageable than cooking your average whale), and information from Canada Post on getting your Christmas mail to points overseas on-time.


[Gary] Well, that's the end of this week's effort. In the words of Red Green, keep your stick on the ice!

[Craig] Thanks a bunch, Gary.



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